MAPLEWOOD — About 70 residents turned out Tuesday night for a town hall meeting and voiced concerns ranging from parking, traffic and pedestrian safety to nuisance ordinances, police behavior and uses of revenue generated by Prop P. The town hall took place before a City Council meeting.
Town hall attendees did a “gallery walk” to tables with information on topics ranging from traffic and public safety to parks and recreation and issues affecting seniors. They also had the opportunity to discuss issues with the council members who manned the tables. Participants could list their comments and concerns on notes posted to large sheets of paper; officials will post the feedback on the city's website for future discussion.
“As far as where we go from here, obviously we weren’t able to answer all the questions, but the first step is to come up with the questions so that we can look and see at what people are concerned about and what they’re interested in,” Mayor Barry Greenberg said. “We want to let you know that we’re listening to what you have to say.”
Greenberg also urged residents to become involved with local government and noted that council agendas are posted online so residents can check before a meeting to see if they have any input for the topics that will be discussed.
But Greenberg also had a cautionary note for the residents. “There’s going to be challenges coming up ahead,” he said. “We’re going to have to address those or we’re going to have to make some hard decisions as a council.”
Before the gallery walk, Greenberg and Acting City Manager Anthony Traxler addressed the group, telling them that with the recent purchase of major fire equipment, the city faces a budget shortfall.
The council recently decided to place on the April ballot a measure to increase the existing quarter-cent sales tax that funds fire services by another quarter cent.
If voters pass the measure, it would bring in an estimated $650,000 to help pull the municipality out of one of its tightest money crunches in years.
In an interview after the meeting, Traxler said that the city is $480,000 over its 2019-2020 budget due to its recent fire equipment purchases.
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